On October 31, 1969, Time published “The Homosexual: Newly Visible, Newly Understood.” While the controversial piece discussed the public’s growing consciousness of the gay community, it also presented harmful stereotypes, a reflection of the markedly conservative coverage of gay rights issues Time maintained throughout most of its history.
At the height of the AIDS crisis, in June 1990, Time once again courted controversy with an opinion piece critiquing increased congressional funding of AIDS research. Members of the recently formed Lesbians & Gay Men at Time Warner (LGTW) were outraged by the article and responded in writing by denouncing Time‘s coverage of gay issues on the basis of journalistic standards. With new-found motivation, the group worked toward making Time Warner a more welcoming environment for lesbian and gay employees.
Diminished activity followed LGTW’s early success. Coupled with the impact of AIDS on its membership and their loved ones, by the mid-1990s, LGTW began to fade from the picture. In its absence Time Warner soon created a corporate-sponsored group known as Out @ Time Warner.
Christopher Corey’s cover article on the public’s growing consciousness of the gay community argues for “tolerance” while encouraging society to find a way to deal with “problematic behaviors” and blaming the gay community for being too militant. The language and stereotypes used in the article sparked a protest outside Time‘s headquarters.
Conservative political columnist Charles Krauthammer argued in a Time opinion piece that congressional funding for AIDS research was disproportionate to any other disease. In response, Lesbians & Gay Men at Time Warner took their first collective action and wrote a pointed criticism to the article. In Post-its, Time editor-in-chief Jason McManus maintained a running commentary of LGTW’s response which illustrates the bias that existed within the corporation.
Charles Krauthammer’s opinion piece galvanized LGBT employees and sparked interest in Lesbians & Gay Men at Time Warner. For its first formal meeting, the group circulated this flyer succinctly outlining its ambitions. Knowing that anonymity was important for many of the group’s members, LGTW’s meeting did not occur at the Time-Life Building.
Soon after forming, Lesbians & Gay Men at Time Warner began to explore options to have Time Warner recognize domestic partnerships. With strong support from New York City-based advocacy groups, LGTW persuaded Time Warner to begin a pilot benefits program at one of their subsidiaries, HBO, in Jun 1993. The next year Time Warner enacted the program across all its subsidiaries, four years before New York City legally recognized domestic partnerships.
Along with their advocacy work, LGTW provided a way for its members to build a social network. The group hosted parties, happy hours, and film screenings that helped foster relationships among LGBT employees.
This exhibition, curated by Samantha Brown, Time Inc. Assistant Archivist, is on view through September, 2019 in the library’s display cases, which were generously provided by funding from the Pine Tree Foundation of New York.